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Asia and Australia Edition: North Korea, China, Mark Zuckerberg: Your Wednesday Briefing

Asia and Australia Edition

North Korea, China, Mark Zuckerberg: Your Wednesday Briefing

(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)

Good morning. The U.S.-North Korea meeting in doubt, mixed signals on the trade war with China, and Mark Zuckerberg in Europe. Here’s what you need to know:

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CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

• “There’s a very substantial chance that it won’t work out.”

President Trump cast doubt on his planned summit meeting next month with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un. His comments came as he met with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea at the White House on Tuesday, above.

Mr. Moon has acted as a go-between in the proposed talks, and South Korea had insisted on Monday that there was a “99.9 percent” chance that the meeting would be held. (The White House has already issued commemorative coins for the occasion.)

But if the North maintains its nuclear arsenal, can Mr. Trump still claim diplomatic victory? It will depend on how he redefines success — and if the meeting takes place, our correspondent noted.

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CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

After talk of putting the trade war “on hold,” Washington has warned Beijing that it might still impose tariffs on goods such as Chinese steel, above. But deep divisions within the White House’s trade team have resulted in a mixed message that has weakened the U.S. position, officials said.

Still, China fulfilled a promise to cut tariffs on imported cars and parts, in a bid to ease trade tensions. But President Trump denied that there was any agreement on giving relief to the Chinese telecom firm ZTE.

We looked at how Mr. Trump’s intense focus on reducing the trade deficit could actually hurt the U.S. economy over time.

And after rereading “The Art of the Deal,” our business columnist writes that the president’s negotiating playbook is on display: “Start with a headline-grabbing demand, beat chest loudly, then accept whatever is actually practical and call it a win.”

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CreditJeenah Moon for The New York Times

Congress is poised to pass a bill that would free thousands of U.S. banks from strict rules intended to prevent another financial meltdown. The legislation does little to alter the oversight of some of the larger banks, but it is symbolically important to Republicans railing against the 2010 Dodd-Frank banking regulation law as an example of federal overreach.

And the Volcker Rule, one of the most significant actions by the government, is also a target of the White House’s deregulatory push. The law prohibited banks from making risky but hugely profitable bets with their customers’ deposits.

Above, the Federal Reserve in New York.

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CreditPeter Lorimer/EPA, via Shutterstock

• An Australian archbishop became the highest-ranking Catholic official in the world to be convicted of concealing sexual abuse claims. Philip Wilson, the archbishop of Adelaide, above, faces up to two years in prison amid a global reckoning for the Roman Catholic Church.

And Australia is still waiting for a U.S. envoy after Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee became the second official to turn down the post. We looked at why this has offended Australians.

An Australian politician said that a billionaire businessman of Chinese descent conspired to bribe a prominent United Nations diplomat, raising fresh concerns about China’s efforts to interfere in democracies around the world.

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CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

• China and its archrival Taiwan share claims to the Spratly Islands, a hotly contested archipelago in the South China Sea, pictured in a poster in Weifang, China, above. But the two diverge in how they exercise control.

China has built artificial islands that bristle with military installations and missiles.

On Itu Aba, a 110-acre speck dense with banana and coconut trees, the Taiwanese are planning a small hospital to bolster search-and-rescue capacity for nearby heavily trafficked sea lanes.

“We want this to be a peaceful place,” a Taiwanese official told our reporter.

But almost everything about Itu Aba is up for dispute. The Philippines and Vietnam also stake claims, and the U.N. has ruled that it’s just a rock, undercutting the Taiwanese claim to the surrounding waters.

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Business

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CreditFrancois Lenoir/Reuters

• Mark Zuckerberg faced a barrage of questions at the European Parliament, the latest stop on his Facebook apology tour.

• Want to see your baby? Some new mothers in China said hospital staff barred them until they paid their medical bills first, a symptom of an inflexible system.

• Amazon has aggressively pitched its facial recognition service to law enforcement, but civil rights organizations worried about mass surveillance are urging it to stop.

• Tesla’s Model 3 is moving further upscale, meaning buyers of the $ 35,000 base model must wait even longer.

• U.S. stocks were down. Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

In the News

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CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

• “The military junta wants to crush us.” Thai democracy activists defied the police to hold a protest on the fourth anniversary of a military coup. [The New York Times]

• A Tibetan activist was sentenced to five years in prison for speaking to The New York Times about Chinese policies he fears threaten his native language. [The New York Times]

• At least 16 people were killed in Afghanistan as experts tried and failed to defuse explosives in a parked car. [The New York Times]

• A relentless heat wave killed at least 65 people in Karachi, Pakistan, where the temperature reached 44 degrees Celsius. [The New York Times]

• A Rohingya refugee died after jumping from a moving bus on Manus Island, in Papua New Guinea, where Australia houses hundreds of migrants. [SBS]

• Wild dogs have been attacking children with alarming frequency in northern India. Muslim farmers blame Hindu politicians who shut down slaughterhouses, depriving the dogs of the scraps they subsisted on. [The New York Times]

• More than a third of girls in South Asia miss school during their periods because of a lack of restrooms and sanitary products, a study found. [Reuters]

• The Chinese giant salamander — the world’s largest amphibian and a local delicacy — is close to extinction, researchers said. [BBC]

Smarter Living

Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.

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CreditTony Cenicola/The New York Times

• Seventeen refreshing books to check out this summer.

• Recipe of the day: Brighten up dinner with a creamy lemon pasta.

• How to talk about moving to a retirement home: “It’s a journey.”

Noteworthy

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CreditLudovic Marin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• In memoriam: Zhao Kangmin, an archaeologist who pieced together pottery fragments to restore an army of terra-cotta warriors that became one of China’s best-known ancient wonders.

• Nostalgia for Goa, a former Portuguese colony, has informed a fusion approach at O Pedro, a new restaurant in Mumbai.

• How much of your body do you need in virtual reality? Only a floating pair of hands and feet, Japanese researchers found.

Back Story

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CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

We start today on a bright note. Neon, specifically.

When Georges Claude discovered a mechanism for trapping gas in a tube and zapping it with electricity, he turned the ordinary extraordinary.

Claude, who died on this date in 1960, demonstrated his invention at the Paris Motor Show in 1910 with two 40-foot neon tubes that glowed a brilliant red. Two years later he installed the first neon advertising sign in a Parisian barbershop on the Boulevard Montmartre.

Neon signage made it to the United States in the early 1920s by way of a Los Angeles car dealership. Bigger and brighter, it turned out, was better.

“Every business in the nation that wanted to be perceived as modern in that Art Deco era had to have neon,” a neon preservationist and historian told The Times.

By the late 1960s, neon was on the outs as the first lady Lady Bird Johnson started a national “beautification” campaign and communities passed anti-neon laws. Neon flickered back to life in the 1980s, but made a strong return in the 2000s in the United States. In Hong Kong, above, a city known for its glow, neon lights have slowly dimmed in recent years.

Just as quickly as neon dies out, it can turn back on.

Remy Tumin wrote today’s Back Story.

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